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Giving back to cycling: Becky James on life in retirement

Joe Robinson
18 Sep 2017

Despite an early retirement, double Olympic silver medalist Becky James plans to stick close to cycling

It was 28 degrees, bright sunshine, we had just had a free breakfast paid for fitness tracker company Fitbit. This followed dinner and a free bar the night before, all paid for within the five-star resort.

Ambassador work for the sport watch brand Fitbit being sent to beautiful Balearic Islands to spend a few days in a resort worthy of a honeymoon. 

This could seem like a dream lifestyle, stress free and easy, however, this is very different to the reality. 

Speak to the double Olympic silver medalist Becky James and there is clear regret at not fulfilling potential. At the young age of 25, James had almost reached the pinnacle of her sport. Rainbow jerseys had already happened and Olympic gold was milliseconds away. 

However, persistent injury problems kept James from having the potential Midas touch in Tokyo in 2020. Instead, early retirement was the decision after a 12 month break from the sport. 

The pain of no longer being able to compete in a sport you were once a leading light in may deter you from having further involvement. Not for James, who in conversation, shows a clear drive to continue in the sport that has been central through most of her life. 

'At the moment I am focusing on my baking company, Baked by Becs, but the long term plan, the five year plan, is a cafe” she said. ‘I am also working on a cycling and yoga retreat business with a close friend, so watch this space.’ 
A cake shop and cycling holiday company are clear signs of a drive to remain within the sport. Beyond this, the purchase of classic car with the vision of kitting it out with a portable coffee stand for cycling sportives and races confirm any suspicion that James is far from done with cycling. 

Go beyond the baking and potential business venture and the young Welsh women shows clear ambitions to give back to the sport that provided her with so much. 

Despite a career battling injury, James insists she received nothing but full support from Team GB and British Cycling, crediting them for her eventual success on the wooden boards of the track. 

In a time when the inequity of women’s cycling remains a critiqued subject under the eyes of many, James champions the equality of female track cycling within the British track cycling setup. 

‘I always found Team GB and British Cycling to be equal for men and women,’ adding, ‘we had the same success to facilities and resources as all the guys.’ 

Obviously, this isn’t the opinion of everybody, but personally I never had any problems and I only have good things to say about them.’ 

The inquiry into allegations of sexism  contradicts this opinion, presenting a vastly different environment to the one painted by James.

Experiences obviously differ from one individual to another but it is clear James is a supporter of the work done at the Manchester velodrome. 

With a younger sister working her way through the academy, dreaming of representing Wales in the Commonwealth Games next year on the Gold Coast of Australia, there is clear belief in the system. So much so, she dreams of 'giving back’ to track cycling are harboured. 

‘I am still involved with track cycling, helping my sister who hopes to represent Wales next year in the Commonwealth Games.’ 

‘I really want to give back to the sport of track cycling and help younger riders in a coaching role,’ adding ‘ I was always good at the tactic side of racing and I really think I could help with that.’ 

British cycling expects nothing less than gold at the Olympics, and the unprecedented haul of medals since Beijing shows this.

The achievements of Becky James can sometimes go underneath the radar, yet this was a career that was far from reaching its potential. The encouraging news is that James shows clear intent to continue within the sport and help it grow beyond its already monumental success. 

This should be heartening news with the mud surrounding British cycling and its issue with the female side of the sport.

With this in mind, the willingness of James to give back to the track should be welcomed with open arms. 

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